The oppressive heat and humidity of the summer seems to have finally passed. The kids are back in school. The leaves are falling. The holidays are months away. Ahhhhh. What a perfect time to stop and breathe, both literally and figuratively.
While breathing is one of the most natural things we do, it can become one of the most distorted. Watch a baby or an animal breathe, and you will see that the majority of the movement is from their diaphragm, making their stomach rise as they inhale and fall as they exhale. We all did it at one point in our lives, but as responsibilities pile up and we start to carry the weight of life experiences, our breath tends to become shallow and confined to the upper lungs. To start to train yourself to breathe fully (naturally), think of breathing into the base of your lungs, allowing your stomach to move away from your spine as you inhale, and toward your spine as you exhale. Notice what effect it has on you. There is a reason we are told to “take a deep breath” when we are angry or nervous…our breath can literally calm and relax us, just by doing what is natural.
On the less literal side, ask yourself, “Where in my life have I forgotten to breathe?” Are you working 12 hours a day? Haven’t had your hair cut in months? Have a “to do” list that is 10 pages long or a calendar completely lacking white space? Have your kids (or friends, or family) forgotten what you look like? Have you lost touch with what you really want out of life…what really matters to you? Take a few minutes, even if it’s just as you’re drifting off to sleep at night, to ask yourself what would help you “breathe” better. You won’t have to think very long – you already know.
So as we begin to transition from summer to fall, before life starts to get crazy again, take some time to do whatever it is that will help you breathe. Go get that pedicure or massage, or take your sweetheart on a date, or take your kids to the zoo, or sit down and read a great book that you can’t put down. Don’t approach it as one more thing on your “to do” list; set your intention to make it an experience to savor.
Take some time to stop and breathe.